FAA Computer Outage Grounds Flights Across the US

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has lifted its order to ground all domestic flight departures after its Notice to Air Mission system — which provides pilots with pre-flight safety alerts — went down Wednesday morning.

FAA Computer Outage Grounds Flights Across the US
Image credit: AFP/Getty Images [via NBC News]

Facts

  • The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has lifted its order to ground all domestic flight departures after its Notice to Air Mission system — which provides pilots with pre-flight safety alerts — went down Wednesday morning. However, some airlines continue to endure resulting delays and cancellations.
  • With over 5.4K flights within, out of, or into the US having been delayed through Wednesday morning, the failure of the system that alerts pilots to hazards like runway closures and nearby construction cranes, was called "catastrophic" by the US Travel Association.
  • In a tweet, the US Sec. of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said that the FAA was working to fix the issue "swiftly and safely," with the Biden admin. recently adding that there is no sign of a cyberattack.
  • This comes after the FAA on Tuesday announced its requiring charter airlines, air tour operators, and plane manufacturers to establish well-informed pilot alert systems as the result of Congressional action in 2020 following two deadly crashes of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft.
  • The nationwide grounding of all planes, the first of its kind since 9/11, also comes two weeks after Southwest Airlines' pilot and crew scheduling system collapsed, stranding thousands. The FAA situation could potentially point to a similar out-of-date system issue.

Sources: CNN, NBC, New York Times, Daily Mail, and Popsci.

Narratives

  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by USA Today. With over 29K commercial flights across the US each day, the safety record has been almost flawless and is demonstrated by the rarity of major or serious incidents. The US regulatory system has ensured that flight and aircraft safety is the best in the world, which is a direct result of the regulations established by the FAA. If anything, the US shouldn't become complacent as it has come to expect safety and efficiency as the norm.
  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by New York Post. The FAA's overbearing and overwhelming regulations are directly linked to air travel challenges for passengers. A significant percentage of delays and cancellations are due to FAA traffic management initiatives. These overreaching rules not only frustrate passengers and bog down the system, but they also burn pilot hours each month that impacts staff availability to ensure safe and timely flights.